The Book of Two Ways: A Novel (Hardcover)

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Staff Reviews


This fascinating story is an examination of death from two perspectives: the ancient Egyptian’s belief in an afterlife and preparation for it; the current day perspective of how to prepare for one’s own demise. It is a story that made me think a lot about life and death. It will grab the reader, shake her up, and force her to think about her own paths not taken, but not too late to explore! “It’s not until you start building your own tomb that you realize you’re going to be the one inside!” 

Dawn Edelstein is a middle-aged woman who has had two significant life experiences. Currently, she is a death doula, whose job is to  provide comfort and support for her clients through their dying process. Formerly, Dawn was a student of archeology, passionate about ancient Egyptian beliefs, but was whisked away from this part of her journey when her mother died, and she was needed at home. Now, years later, Dawn comes face to face with her own mortality, and questions her own life, and the path she could have taken, but didn’t. While she is helping people figure out how to die, she is trying to figure out how to LIVE! The ending of the story is open, and I am still contemplating how I would finish it! 
-Virgie
I may be alone here, but this was my first Picoult book. I tend to avoid them because I’ve never felt these stories were meant for me, but the setting of Egypt pulled me in. Now, I am so excited to tell everyone about this book. It really spoke to my fears as a young woman about missing out and making the 'wrong' choice. Based on the real Book of Two Ways, an Egyptian Middle Kingdom coffin text mapping out the dead's choice between two routes to the afterlife, it really starts with a near-death experience that forces Dawn to make a massive choice regarding the direction of her life, and how this choice splits her timeline in two. I adored how Dawn faced her demons in both timelines, and was never portrayed as infallible. I especially appreciated how neither route was the ‘right’ one. With Picoult’s writing, I could taste the dust and heat of Egypt on my tongue, and the salt of the seashore clung to my skin. Every single side character was fleshed out and sympathetic. Win was maybe my favorite character overall.  Dawn's love of Brian and Wyatt, but especially her daughter moved me to actual tears. My heart broke for Meret as she fought the social stigmas around body image, but also gave me some insight into how my own mother dealt with me when I had the same insecurities as a child. The best books make you examine your own life, and The Book of Two Ways has done a masterful job.  I had to text a friend immediately when I finished it at 2 am.
-Jenna
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— From Ostentatious October Staff Picks

Description


#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • From the author of Small Great Things and A Spark of Light comes a “powerful” (The Washington Post) novel about the choices that alter the course of our lives.

Everything changes in a single moment for Dawn Edelstein. She’s on a plane when the flight attendant makes an announcement: Prepare for a crash landing. She braces herself as thoughts flash through her mind. The shocking thing is, the thoughts are not of her husband but of a man she last saw fifteen years ago: Wyatt Armstrong.

Dawn, miraculously, survives the crash, but so do all the doubts that have suddenly been raised. She has led a good life. Back in Boston, there is her husband, Brian, their beloved daughter, and her work as a death doula, in which she helps ease the transition between life and death for her clients.

But somewhere in Egypt is Wyatt Armstrong, who works as an archaeologist unearthing ancient burial sites, a career Dawn once studied for but was forced to abandon when life suddenly intervened. And now, when it seems that fate is offering her second chances, she is not as sure of the choice she once made.

After the crash landing, the airline ensures that the survivors are seen by a doctor, then offers transportation to wherever they want to go. The obvious destination is to fly home, but she could take another path: return to the archaeological site she left years before, reconnect with Wyatt and their unresolved history, and maybe even complete her research on The Book of Two Ways—the first known map of the afterlife.

As the story unfolds, Dawn’s two possible futures unspool side by side, as do the secrets and doubts long buried with them. Dawn must confront the questions she’s never truly asked: What does a life well lived look like? When we leave this earth, what do we leave behind? Do we make choices . . . or do our choices make us? And who would you be if you hadn’t turned out to be the person you are right now?

About the Author


Jodi Picoult is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of twenty-four novels, including A Spark of Light, Small Great Things, Leaving Time, The Storyteller, Lone Wolf, Sing You Home, House Rules, Handle with Care, Change of Heart, Nineteen Minutes, and My Sister’s Keeper. She is also the author, with daughter Samantha van Leer, of two young adult novels, Between the Lines and Off the Page. Picoult lives in New Hampshire.

Praise For…


“A thrilling adventure . . . With Picoult’s stories, there is always something new to learn, and The Book of Two Ways is no exception. . . . A fun and interesting read, one that will lead readers to both learn a lot and also ask themselves key questions about how to create happy lives for themselves during the short time we have on earth.”—Associated Press
 
The Book of Two Ways is a return for Picoult to the themes of her earliest books—motherhood, complicated romantic love. . . . Picoult, at this point in her career, could skillfully build tension in a broom closet, but the best part of this book is not the suspense; it’s the look at the complexity of a woman as she enters middle age. . . . Picoult always tells both sides of a story not with judgment, but with grace.”The Washington Post
 
“Jodi Picoult fans rejoice! . . . The Book of Two Ways is one story you won’t be able to put down.”—CNN
 
“Asking life or death questions in perfect Picoult fashion.”Parade
 
“[A] delightfully escapist, high-concept novel . . . The Book of Two Ways nearly spills over in its earnestness and emotion. . . . This is a book of big, burning questions such as what defines a great life.”—BookTrib

“Picoult’s fans will appreciate this multifaceted, high-concept work.”Publishers Weekly
 
“Picoult’s fans will be more than ready for this puzzle of a novel. . . . [They] will find heady themes to consider.”Booklist
 
“Jodi Picoult knows how to write allll the feels, and The Book of Two Ways is no exception.”Cosmopolitan
 
“Unputdownable.”—E! Online
 
“Riveting.”—Womendotcom
 
“If you didn’t already see Jodi’s name and preorder this one, let us convince you.”—Good Housekeeping
Product Details
ISBN: 9781984818355
ISBN-10: 198481835X
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Publication Date: September 22nd, 2020
Pages: 432